Farming News - Farming still has the poorest safety record of any occupation

Farming still has the poorest safety record of any occupation

20 Jul 2020
Frontdesk
  • Farm Safety Week 20-24 July 2020 aims to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give farming the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK & Ireland
  • According to the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind the annual campaign, when comparing older and younger farm worker age groups, the five year fatal injury rate is nearly six times higher for over 65s compared to the 16-24 age group.
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB report 2019/20 published today outlines that 20 farm workers were killed on farms over the past year – a 37.5% decrease on the previous years figure of 32.
  • Of those killed, 20 were agricultural workers and one was a member of the public – a four year old child.
  • Farm Safety Week is an initiative led by the Farm Safety Foundation and supported by the Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.YellowWellies.org

For those of us who have been following every possible safety measure to avoid the invisible danger of COVID19 - washing our hands until our skin starts to crack, avoiding social contact with family and friends, risk assessing and redirecting our route as soon we see someone approaching – the thought that someone would see a danger on the horizon and do nothing to avoid it is hard to fathom.

But, according to the UK’s leading farm safety charity, the Farm Safety Foundation, this is exactly what farmers and farm workers have been doing for years and this is why agriculture continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. Today, however, there are signs that poor attitudes to safety, risk-taking behaviours and the number of farmers and farm workers losing their lives on the UK’s farms may finally be improving with the release of the Health and Safety Executive Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing for Great Britain 2019/2020 which reports that 20 agriculture workers lost their lives over the past year, a decrease of 37.5% on the previous years figure of 32.

To mark the start of the annual Farm Safety Week campaign, HSE have shared their in-depth report into fatal injuries in the sector and revealed that, over the past year, a total of 21 people in England, Scotland and Wales were killed in agriculture – 20 agriculture workers and 1 member of the public – a four year old child. The biggest cause of these fatalities was farm transport. Workers over the age of 55 were disproportionately at risk of death following an incident.  Even with the numbers overall dropping this year which is encouraging news, agriculture still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, a shocking 18 times higher than the all-industry rate, accounting for around 20% of worker fatalities.

Now in its eighth year, Farm Safety Week brings together five countries over five days with ONE clear goal – to remind farmers and farm workers to take safety seriously so we can reduce the number of life-changing and life-ending accidents on our farms.

“Agriculture is a vitally important part of our economy.” explains Adrian Hodkinson, Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive. “But every year we report that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.

“It is a very sad fact that most of the deaths and life-changing injuries are completely avoidable and the causes well known. The precautions to prevent people being killed and/or really seriously injured on farms are usually straightforward.  It is not acceptable that Agriculture continues to fail to manage risk in the workplace. We need everyone to play their part to change their own behaviours & do things the right way (rather than the way it’s always been done) and challenge poor practices whenever they are seen.  

“On a more positive note,” Adrian added: “It’s fantastic to see more use of working platforms, more hi-vis clothing, that ATV users are getting trained and wearing helmets, and better cattle handling facilities are being installed”

Throughout this year’s campaign, the Farm Safety Foundation, supported by the Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland, will demonstrate how the recent global pandemic has impacted the industry and, with the tragic reality that three children lost their lives on British and Irish farms over the past month, the issue of keeping children safe on farms has never been more important.

In addition, following recent news reports of farmers texting and TikToking while behind the wheel, there will be a focus on distracted driving and rural road safety. However, given the encouraging figures in this year's HSE annual report, there will also be a look at some of the exciting innovations in technology helping us all to farm safer.

According to Stephanie Berkeley who manages the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind this campaign: ““This has been a particularly challenging 2020 for all of us however, over the past few months, farmers have been recognised as key workers, playing an essential role in producing food for the country.  There are no borders when it comes to safety and this year’s Farm Safety Week will see partners in five countries* showing a united front in calling for the industry to take safety seriously each and every day, not just during Farm Safety Week. (*Ireland, N. Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales)

“Like any farmer scanning his fields for green shoots, we are doing the same across the industry and we’re optimistic that a change is finally happening. 

“Farmers are starting to make decisions that are in their broad self-interest and in the interest of staying safe and staying alive. Young farmers are coming into the industry with improved attitudes to working safely. More farmers are being open about looking after their physical and mental wellbeing and using technology, learning business skills and taking innovative steps to make their farm businesses safe, resilient and sustainable.

“Farm Safety Week may be one week in the year but the Farm Safety Foundation works all year round to educate, engage and communicate strong and relatable farm safety messages and deliver this change and we can not do this alone. We are very privileged to have this opportunity to work closely with the farm safety partnerships, health and safety organisations and the farming community to drive safety forward.”

For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek